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The Footwork of Negotiation

Negotiations aren’t about getting what you want, it’s about relationship building. That’s why the best negotiations don’t feel like a negotiation, but like a dance. And like dances, negotiations are supposed to be fun, where both parties should to walk away feeling closer and feeling good. What makes for a successful dance or negotiation?

Know the name of the dance: Before you can perform, you have to know what dance you’re doing so you can predict the moves they’re going to make, and why they’ll make them. Once you understand their bigger mission/vision (why they want to dance), you’ll know the name, and therefore nature of the dance. What is the timeline—is this a fast or a slow dance? How much distance should be kept in between you two? How long are the strides? You want to get into the rhythm, get into the mindset of the relationship.

Know the basic footwork: If you know the moves, you can better avoid stepping on each other’s toes: Now that you know the name of the dance, figure out the top three things they want from the deal—their KPI’s, their goals, their “non-negotiables.” That’s your basic footwork. You’ll also want to pay attention to the length of their steps—in other words, know their top / bottom line, and where you stand relative to them.

Know the art of the dance: This is the art of the dance. What are their values, and how can you factor it into the style of your “dance”? What are other circumstances that can influence that they want, and what you want?

If you’re in a negotiation (you’re always in a negotiation), try to divide your negotiation into mission, goals, and values, and figure out where you’re struggling and which area you can strengthen for better results.

Excerpt from The Triple Alignment Model